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Trump Watching Kavanaugh Hearings At White House


Well, that hearing wrapped just before 7 tonight here in Washington. Throughout, emotions ran high on all sides. NPR's Tamara Keith joins me now from the White House to talk through the day. Hi again, Tam.


KELLY: Hi. So Kavanaugh - as we could hear from his testimony, as you could see, he was angry in his opening statement. He was really angry. Is that a different side of him than we've seen before?

KEITH: Yeah. He in his original confirmation hearing was very careful to be even-keeled, to present himself as a nonpartisan, impartial jurist - just the law. In his Fox News interview earlier this week, he came across as subdued and sad and confused by the allegations. Today was very different. He was combative. He was partisan. And he sort of fluctuated at times between yelling and other times tearing up - really combative with the Democratic senators in particular. It seemed like he was channeling President Trump in some ways, whose M.O. is always to fight, fight, fight, fight, fight back against everything.

KELLY: Speaking of President Trump, we know the president was watching. He has tweeted his reaction. Tell us what he said.

KEITH: Well, I will read the tweet. He says - and I will say that he was watching - he had an event to get to, and he didn't leave on time because the hearing wasn't over yet. Then almost - just a couple of minutes after the hearing was over, this tweet came out. Quote, "Judge Kavanaugh showed America exactly why I nominated him. His testimony was powerful, honest and riveting. Democrats' search-and-destroy strategy is disgraceful, and this process has been a total sham, an effort to delay, obstruct and resist. The Senate must vote" - exclamation point.

One thing I want to point out about that - the phrase search and destroy is a phrase that Brett Kavanaugh had in his opening statement...

KELLY: Yeah.

KEITH: ...There at that Senate hearing.

KELLY: It sounds as though President Trump is standing behind Kavanaugh's nomination, very much standing behind his nominee, which is interesting because just last night, he was hinting that maybe if things didn't go so well today from the president's point of view, he might pull Kavanaugh's nomination.

KEITH: Right. He - in a press conference yesterday, the president was like, well, we'll see how it goes; I want to see if the allegations against him are credible. But that is not what happened today. Today, President Trump came out very strongly in favor of his nominee, as did...

KELLY: And do we know why...

KEITH: ...Vice President Mike Pence.

KELLY: ...I mean, what it was that he heard that he liked?

KEITH: Well, I think in part it was that he was combative. I've been told by aides that they felt that the opening statement was strong, that they felt that, you know, if all the Democrats could get on him is that, you know, he drank in high school and college, then that wasn't enough to take him down. And White House aides were cheering on Senator Lindsey Graham, who in the hearing was the one who really took control and changed the way the hearing was going, making it much more partisan.


LINDSEY GRAHAM: God, I hate to say it 'cause these have been my friends. But let me tell you when it comes to this. You're looking for a fair process. You came to the wrong town at the wrong time, my friend.

KEITH: One other small thing to note is that President Trump did not weigh in on the credibility of Blasey Ford's testimony.

KELLY: So real quick, what happens next?

KEITH: There's going to be a vote. We are told that the Senate Judiciary Committee is going to convene tomorrow morning, and a vote is expected in committee there, and then it could go to the full Senate pretty quickly.

KELLY: Well, all right. White House correspondent Tamara Keith updating us on the latest - thank you, Tam.

KEITH: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.